Puppy wearing harness

How to choose a dog harness

Is it time to make the switch from collar to harness? Whether it’s for comfort, protection or health concerns, there are many reasons to choose a harness over a standard collar. With so many different options available, choosing the right harness for your pet can a tough and confusing choice. We’ve rounded up the most common choices out there to help you decide the best harness option for your furry best friend.

Step-in harness

What it is: Just as the name implies, this type of harness provides a simple step-in, snap-and-go, no-frills option for all pets. The harness consists of two lightweight straps separated by a thin perpendicular strap in the middle so that you can lay the harness down flat and simply have your pet "step in” the holes separated by the perpendicular strap, then pull the sides up and snap the closure on top the back. (Lola & Foxy step-in dog harness, Petsmart, $36-$52))

Best fit for: Obedient dogs of all shapes and sizes. Because this style of harness is adjustable, it is easy to custom-adjust it to fit your pooch.

Step-in harness


Standard (Roman) harness

What it is: The standard harness slips over the head and provides a snap closure around the body of your pet. The neck enclosure provides added weight distribution and full body control. In addition, the adjustable shoulder straps allow pups with a tendency toward neck strain the comfort of pain-free walks. (Lupine designer Roman dog harness, Amazon.com, $18)

Best fit for: Small breeds and well-behaved, low-energy pets. The standard harness is a two-step process (over-head and body strap) and overly eager pets may not have the patience for it.

Standard (roman) harness


Built-in leash harness

What it is: Unlike a standard long leash, the built-in leash harness provides a short cinch-leash that acts like a handle that cinches when your pet tries to pull or lunge, providing quick control of your pet. Perfect for controlling your pet in close quarters like the vet or the groomer or keeping your pet calm in social settings without having to wrestle with a long lead. Most built in leash harnesses also provide a D-ring that allows you to also attach a regular leash to the harness for walking, jogging and hiking. (Bamboo quick control harness with leash, Amazon.com, $19)

Best fit for: Large and active breeds that need extra care in social settings.

Built in leash harness

Car harness

What it is: Providing safe and easy car travel, car harnesses look much like regular harnesses with the bonus of a built-in seat-belt loop for click-and-go traveling. A top option for pets who love to ride in the back seat, car harnesses easily turn into a regular harness, making this the only accessory you need for your pet. (Solvit pet vehicle safety harness, Petsmart, $25-$33)

Best fit for: Pets with active lifestyles. Pet parents who love taking their pups on road trips and other adventures will benefit from the ease of a built-in seat belt that allows them to enjoy easy car rides.

Car harness

No-pull harness

What it is: Designed with the untrained dog in mind, the no-pull harness typically features a two-snap process: one band that goes around the belly and one that goes around the chest. Rather than bands that go around the neck or shoulders, this type of harness strategically places the band in front of the chest. The leash hook, or D-ring, is also placed in the front to discourage pulling and tugging, and giving you more control over your pet's movement. (Premier easy walk dog harness, REI, $25)

Best fit for: Puppies and dogs working on leash training.

No-Pull Harness

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